Palmerston North Girls' High School's First XI came through the hard way, but have made it to the national secondary schools Twenty20 competition starting this week.
Girls' High had a controversial loss to New Plymouth Girls' High in qualifying but were offered a spot after a Northern Districts school pulled out of the tournament, which starts at Ongley and Manawaroa parks on Friday.
In the qualifier against New Plymouth at the end of last season, Girls' High needed two runs to win with only one wicket in hand.
One of the Girls' High batters was out caught but the ball was deemed a no-ball by the square-leg umpire because it was above waist height.
The Girls' High batters walked off not realising it was a no-ball, but then New Plymouth ran one of them out to win the game anyway.
Girls' High coach Cindy Forsyth wasn't dwelling on the result now they were in the finals and the whole team was excited about playing.
They have had limited preparation, with their spot only confirmed three weeks ago. But Forsyth was confident they would be all right.
"That's the most we can do," she said. "We still want to go out there and win as many games as we can."
Last year, which was the first time they qualified since 1995, Girls' High had a chance to win the tournament before they lost the last game to Hillcrest High School and slipped to third.
All-rounder Hannah Rowe has been made available by the Central Hinds; the year 11 student will be Girls' High's strike bowler.
Wicketkeeper Georgia Barnett, just named in the Black Sticks team to play India in Palmerston North next week, will be with the side until Monday before she has to join the national hockey side.
They also have captain Nikita Hannam and Samantha Rowe with experience with the Manawatu representative team.
The other schools at the tournament are New Plymouth Girls' High School, St Hilda's Collegiate School (Dunedin), Waikato Diocesan School for Girls, Wellington Girls' College, Havelock North High School and St Kentigern College (Auckland).
Christchurch Girls' High School is a notable absentee, having won the competition the past two years in a row.
Girls' High's first game is against New Plymouth at 2pm on Friday.
PNGHS squad: Nikita Hannam (captain), Abigail Miles, Georgia Barnett, Samantha Rowe, Kavithya Senthilnathan, Hannah Rowe, Sarah Power, Georgia Buchanan, Victoria Claridge, Morgan Beck, Olivia West, Molly Noema-Barnett, Rachel Taylor, Alice Little.
PNGHS draw: Friday: New Plymouth GHS, 2pm. Saturday: St Hilda's Collegiate, 10am, Waikato Diocesan, 2pm. Sunday: Wellington Girls' College, 10am; Havelock North HS, 2pm. Monday: St Kentigern College, 9am; bye 12.30pm.
- The Manawatu Standard